Michael Carter, trade commissioner at the Australia Trade Commission, in an interview with FE?s Neha Pal, talks about investment opportunities in India and Australia and his plans of working closely with India to realise the potential for two-way trade and strategic partnerships between the two countries. Excerpts :
What are the development opportunities in Australia? What was your investment in India last year?
Australia can be the ideal investment destination for Indian organisations seeking international expansion in order to secure access to natural resources like coal, gas and mineral deposits. In 2009-10, the Australian trade commission facilitated investments of around A$ 700-million from India into Australia.
Are you planning to expand the met coke production capacity in India with the help of Gujarat NRE?
Gujarat NRE is the only Indian company with coking coal mines in Australia?having more than 560 million tonne of metallurgical coal resource. The coal mines are owned through its subsidiary?Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Limited?which is listed in the Australian stock exchange. Our plan is to expand the met coke production capacity in India to 4 million tonne per annum (mpta) from the current level of 1.25 mpta, as well as commensurate increase in production of coking coal from our Australian mines to 6 mpta from the 1.2 mpta.
What are the kind of tie-ups that you are looking at?
With Delhi hosting high-profile events in the near future?starting with the Commonwealth Games in October and the Cricket World Cup in 2011?Australia can bring its expertise in sports training and look for possible tie-ups.
What are the initiatives that you are taking to spread awareness about trading with Australia among Indian investors?
We are organising a series of conferences in different parts of India, including major cities like Delhi and the NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur, Hyderabad and showcasing potential business and investment oppurtunities with Australia in sourcing Australian technology, products and services?all potential joint partnerships.
Which areas are you focusing on in terms of promoting your trade with India?
Some of the focus areas that we are highlighting are Australian expertise in food and beverage, agribusiness, education, hospitality, infrastructure, building and construction, health and financial services.
What do you think are the hurdles faced in Australia-India trade relations?
Though the bilateral trade has reached $13 billion in 2008-09, with an annual growth of 25%, trade barriers still hamper growth. The free -trade agreement, which is being negotiated between the two countries, is going to be a fundamental force to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries.